Revealed: 28million cost of providing legal advice to every asylum seeker in the UK
Taxpayers pay for hundreds of pounds in free legal advice for every asylum seeker in Britain, figures show.
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
Published: 7:30AM GMT 05 Jan 2010
Figures show that asylum seekers receive an average of 610-worth of legal advice once they have applied to stay in the UK.
If the case is then taken to an immigration tribunal, the cost of the free legal advice rises further, by an average of 1,670 for every application, according to a Parliamentary answer.
Every asylum seeker is entitled to the free legal support. If the case goes to a tribunal they can be represented by legal representatives including barristers and solicitors, swelling the total bill to the taxpayer by even more.
Given that in 2008/9 nearly 47,000 asylum cases were heard, this means the cost to taxpayers of initial advice alone for asylum seekers is 28million a year.
Separate figures also show that there are currently 4,857 asylum appeals outstanding. The Tories said this was evidence of the slow processing in the asylum system.
Damian Green, the shadow Immigration minister, said: There are still hundreds of thousands of asylum cases that have been hanging around for years.
This involves a huge cost to the taxpayer, as well as being unfair to those involved. A quick, efficient system would be a real benefit, but ministers have failed to deliver this despite twelve years of trying.
Ministers have promised to clear the 450,000 so-called legacy cases, some of which date back to the 1990s, by 2011. Just under 200,000 cases have been dealt with so far, of which 63,000 immigrants have been told they could stay.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Legal Aid is not automatically available to all immigrants and asylum seekers. Each application is considered on an individual basis subject to the applicants means and the merits of their case.
“In addition to qualifying financially, the applicant must show that they have reasonable grounds for taking part in legal proceedings and that it is reasonable for legal aid to be granted.
Last October The Daily Telegraph disclosed that at least 154,000 asylum seekers will be allowed to stay in Britain after the Home Office allowed a backlog of applications to build up.
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